Chapter 7: Staying connected with the person who died


It’s a common misconception that when someone dies the goal is to “get over them” and “return to normal.” Our relationship with someone significant doesn’t end with their death. In fact, moving through grief involves finding new ways to continue that relationship, even though the person is no longer physically present. 

Many cultures have traditions which foster an ongoing connection with those who have died. Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico and Obon, a Japanese Buddhist festival, are two examples. There are also many non-religious rituals and activities that help to maintain a relationship in various ways. 

Adults can help children find ways to continue this important relationship. When this is done, a meaningful connection can be developed so they can feel close to the person throughout their lives.   

In some cases, the child may not want to remember the person who died.  If the child has more bad memories than good ones about the person, if there was neglect, abandonment, physical or emotional abuse or negative behaviours caused by addiction, they may be relieved the person has died. 

This chapter suggests rituals and activities to help the relationship to continue.